FLL-MCO-FLL on WN: Milestone for a day
I had to cancel an FLL-PHL-FLL trip from June 2011, so with my credit, I booked a day trip to MCO. I had stayed at the Hyatt at MCO for a night last December (traveled that time via Amtrak Silver Meteor) and thought that the terminal area was really cool, so I'd thought that I would fly up, spend a few hours exploring the terminal, then fly back.
I was scheduled for a vacation from work the week of 4/9/12, so I decided that I would fly on 4/10. This would enable me to print my boarding passes right at the 24 hour mark
So I logged onto Southwest.com promptly at 8:45 AM and was given A50 (!) Stupid ppl with their smart phones! As things turned out, I had to go out later, and didn't get back home until 3:30 PM (return flight departure was at 2 PM), and I got A38! Who knows.
Tuesday arrived, and I got up at 4 AM (not that bad, as I usually get up at 5:00 when I am going to work) and left around 5:15 for FLL. Got to the airport a little before 6:00 (pretty good for an 8:45 flight), parked and headed for security around 6:30. I decided to be proactive and removed everything from my person, including my watch, which I had never done before. Walked through the scanner (traditional ones, no nude-a-vision at FLL) without a problem and was at the gate at 6:45. The previous flight was at my gate (B5). I checked the boards (nice thing about FLL is that they have arrivals as well as departures) and saw that my plane was incoming as WN 977 from TPA. I thought that this was curious, as WN often has long, multi-stop itineraries for their flights (wait until you see the one for my return flight!), yet this was a one stop flight (and even my flight was only FLL-MCO-PVD, though I suspect the plane was going to fly a third flight from there). Oh well, who can figure out what WN does sometimes. Also, this was the first day that my flight operated. So I walked around the terminal taking pics, then lined up at the appointed time. I was concerned as to what kind of seat I would get boarding 50th, but I needn't have worried as I stepped in and the entire plane behind the wing was empty! (seems there were quite a few families or other groups sitting together in the earlier boarders). I selected a window seat about 2 rows behind the wing on the right side, so I could monitor the spoilers and other control surfaces. A little later, the F/A announced that there were 111 on board. This was encouraging on a 73G with 137 seats (or maybe 143, I haven't flown WN enough to know if the new interior had been installed in this particular plane. Subsequently, a man came and sat in the aisle seat, but no one else came by, so the middle seat was empty. Sweet!
Equipment was N227WN, a 737-7H4 manufactured in 2005, certified on 1/5/06. It was WiFi equipped (though since I don't own a laptop, this wasn't important to me). I didn't notice if anyone was using a laptop during the flight. We pushed back from B5 at 8:47, and were wheels up at 9:06. We did the usual departure from 9L, climbed out over the Atlantic, then turned back and headed northwest to MCO.
Flightaware flight 1231 FLL-MCO
We topped at at FL 210, for all of 7 minutes until we started the descent. We passed north and east of MCO passing near the Stanton Energy Center (which a lot of people, including me think is a nuclear power plant because of its twin cooling towers), and also by the Univ. of Central Florida campus, then made a U-turn and came in on runway 17L. We were wheels down at 9:41 and arrived at gate 123 at 9:47. Exactly an hour gate to gate. Reminded me of my many LAX-SF Bay Area flights when I lived out there.
I took the AirTrain? to the main terminal building. Looked pretty much the same as in December, except of course the giant Christmas tree was gone. I walked around the terminal, checking out all the shops, at one point, went out to the north side ground level to check out the Lynx buses (local buses in Orlando). Grabbed a bite, then went to go back through security around 12:20 for my 2:00 return flight. Now, many times the TSA are called "Thousands Standing Around", but the only airport where I've been in the TSA era where this is true is MCO! A bunch at the checkpoints, plus even more around the terminal area! Everywhere I went, I'd see an agent or agents. I don't know if they were on break or what (well I guess the ones eating at the food court were) The only place I didn't see any was outside at the bus loading areas (maybe they are not allowed outside the building while on duty?) Didn't bother me, just found it interesting.
Got back to Airside, this particular terminal has a north wing and a south wing. AirTran is in the north wing (gates 100-112, more or less), while WN has the south wing. There may have been one or 2 other airlines, but I didn't see any. Got some more pics, then went to gate 120 to await my flight which was arriving from Lubbock and Austin. It arrived a few minutes at 1:15. Now when I checked flightaware the day before, they indicated that the equipment was to be a 735, which happened to be the only type in the WN fleet as of 4/10/12 that I had not flown. Of course, FA is often wrong on the plane types, indeed if you click on the link above for flight 1231, they have it as a 733, and it most definitely was a 73G. So the plane arrived, and it was N514SW. I thought this was a good sign, and later it was confirmed, a 735!
There seemed to be some kind of school cheerleading convention or something going on in Orlando, as 2 different groups got off the plane, and I had seen a third earlier in the day. There didn't seem to be many people in the waiting area, and I guess the gate agents took advantage by not starting the boarding process until 10 minutes to 2. Even with that, we pushed back at exactly 2:00 PM. I was sitting in 14F, there was a lady in 14A, no one at all in row 13. 735 has 122 seats, I would say there was not more than 80 people on the flight. We were wheels up at 2:11. I had never flown MCO-FLL before, so I figured we would come down the middle of the state and then turn in to land on 9L. Yet after I few minutes, I looked out and we were heading out over the ocean. I guess they wanted us in the same flow as the other flights coming from the north.
Flightaware flight 422 MCO-FLL
This flight, we topped out at FL230 for all of 9 minutes until we began descent. We turned in on the usual track, just north of Sunrise Blvd, but instead of turning left at around the Sawgrass Expressway (like most of my B6 flights from NY), we continued west over the Everglades to US 27 and then made the turn. I guess it was for spacing. We then lined up for 9L, I saw the usual landmarks along Griffin Road, and we were wheels down at 2:54. We made a high-speed turnoff and blocked in at gate B3 at around 2:58
This flight was more like the WN flights that I am used to LOL. Total route was LBB-AUS-MCO-FLL-BWI-CMH-MDW-OMA. Another strange thing is that this routing was apparently only for Tuesday 4/10. On Monday 4/9, flight 422 was in the last day of its TPA-BHM-STL-MDW-LAX-SMF routing, which it had been operating since March 11th. After 4/10, flight 422 was missing until today, when it assumed a RSW-STL-MCI routing. I swear that WN has the weirdest scheduling ever. No wonder they are having trouble integrating with F9 LOL.
Been awhile since I made a trip report, hope you enjoyed. I was going to include pics, but I didn't feel like messing with Photobucket, so I'll just make a separate photo post at another time (maybe tomorrow, but then again maybe not). Stay tuned...
Oh yeah, milestone for a day refers to my first WN 735 flight, which meant I had flown all 3 types that WN had in service on 4/10/12. Of course, the next day, they introduced a 4th type (738 ), so so much for that accomplishment. At least I have a chance to fly that type, as I have an FLL-MDW-FLL trip in 2 months, and that is one of the routes that the 738 will be flying, so we'll see.
Coulda sworn that I had already posted the following pics..I know for sure that I had hit Preview. I was working several windows, had this site up in one, Photobucket in another, also was uploading videos to YouTube, so I guess something got lost, LOL
These pics are back at Airside, waiting for my flight back to FLL
Departure board in the terminal. On second thought, this may have been in the main terminal, as the one in the terminal would've just had WN and FL flights listed.
WN 735, N515SW (keep that reg # in mind for later)
73G N435WN about to touch down.
A UA (CO) 752, N26123
Delta MD-88 N947DL
Delta MD-90 N911DA (this and the above were back-to-back at one point).
Ex-NW 752 N555NW turning toward the runway (13R, I believe). Note the BahamasAir 732 about to touch down in the background.
An AirTran 717 following N555NW
Speaking of AirTran, 717-2BD N899AT (another appearance by the BahamasAir 732, with the cooling towers from the Stanton Energy Center (which is not a nuclear power plant, I think it is coal powered) lurking in the background,
AirTran 73G N284AT
A different 717 and 73G together
My second Air Canada Airbus of the day!
Looks like the UA 737 from earlier has come out for some sun
My ride home has arrived! 735 N514SW. So I saw within a hour N514SW and N515SW!
More to come...
Now aboard ship 514
As we were taxiing out, I saw Illinois One! My first pic of a WN special livery (Inbound, I saw Shamu One (is that what it's called?), but couldn't get a decent pic)
A WestJet 737 was behind us in line for takeoff. Wonder if that was the same one I saw landing earlier?
Interior view of N514SW. Definitely older looking than ship 227
I figured we would head due south down the middle of Florida and then turn into the pattern for final at FLL. So imagine my surprise when we were out over the Atlantic! I guess ATC likes to have all the traffic from the north together.
We weren't over the Atlantic very long, before I knew it, we were turning inland. We passed by Pompano Air Park (PPM)
Then Fort Lauderdale Executive (FXE)
For most of my flights into FLL from NYC (mostly B6 and one AA), we would go "feet dry" and head westbound generally just north of Sunrise Blvd. We'd make the "U turn" around the Sawgrass Expressway/I-75 junction, then head east for landing on 9L at FLL. However, this day we headed out over the eastern Everglades to US 27 before turning. Then we settled into the usual alignment just north of Griffin Road. The above is the I-75/Griffin Road interchange. We were probaby flying over Maroone Toyota, and just south of Rick Case Hyundai, where I got my car
Flamingo Road & Griffin.
Nob Hill Road/Palm Av & Griffin
Pine Island Road & Griffin
Final pics to come
Last edited by transitfan; 04-24-2012 at 12:35 AM.
Reason: Oops, hit post prematurely :)
Back in Fort Lauderdale!
Another Silver Saab and a Continental Connection, oops United Express Beech 1900D. Wonder how the pax get to the aircraft. Maybe a bus, I'm sure they don't walk across a very active apron.
Allegiant MD-83 N873GA
Another Allegiant MD-80
N514SW parked at gate B3 at FLL. It had been in 4 cities already that day (Lubbock-Austin-Orlando-Fort Lauderdale), but it's day was far from over. From FLL it went to Baltimore, then Columbus, OH, then Midway and (finally!) ending in Omaha. Point-to-point rules (I'm old enough to remember when most of the legacies did P2P. the good old regulated days, I'll never forgive Jimmy Carter for deregulation
While at the great main terminal at MCO, I got this WN 737 metal plane from a Hudson newsstand there. Only $8.99 They had Delta also. Also had like a little kit with a plane, plus ground support vehicles and signs, etc., for kids who wanted to make a mini airport. I didn't want to bother w/ all that though.
BTW, there is an actual N316SW. A still-active 733 from 1986(!)
Well, that's it for the pics. Hope you enjoyed. I might put up some videos later.